City of Okla. City v. Balkman, 118,950

CourtSupreme Court of Oklahoma
Citation482 P.3d 731 (Mem)
Docket NumberNo. 118,950,118,950
Parties The CITY OF OKLAHOMA CITY, Petitioner, v. The Honorable Thad BALKMAN, Chief Judge, Cleveland County, The Honorable Steven Stice, Special District Judge, Cleveland County, and The Honorable Jack McCurdy, Chief Judge, Canadian County, Respondents.
Decision Date07 December 2020

482 P.3d 731 (Mem)

The Honorable Thad BALKMAN, Chief Judge, Cleveland County, The Honorable Steven Stice, Special District Judge, Cleveland County, and The Honorable Jack McCurdy, Chief Judge, Canadian County, Respondents.

No. 118,950

Supreme Court of Oklahoma.




Original jurisdiction is assumed on the Amended Application to Assume Original Jurisdiction and Petition for Writ of Prohibition. Okla. Const. art. VII, § 4. This Court's July 30, 2020, Order granting a stay of enforcement of AO-2020-1 and AO-2020-3, pending this Court's disposition of this Cause, remains in effect until further action by this Court or final disposition of this matter.


Gurich, C.J. (by separate writing), Darby, V.C.J., Kauger (by separate writing), Colbert, and Combs, JJ., concur;

Winchester, Edmondson, Kane (by separate writing) and Rowe (by separate writing), JJ., dissent.

GURICH, C.J., specially concurring.

¶1 I concur in the Order which assumes Original Jurisdiction and the Petition for Writ of Prohibition. The Court of Criminal Appeals only has jurisdiction in criminal cases. In re M.B., 2006 OK 63, ¶ 8, 145 P.3d 1040, 1044. The subject of this original action is the issuance of administrative orders by the district courts. There is no pending criminal prosecution, and we are not called upon to review a criminal conviction, or even issues collateral to pending criminal case. See Parsons v. District Court of Pushmataha County, 2017 OK 97, ¶ 19, 408 P.3d 586, 595 ; Okla. Const., art. VII, § 4. In fact, on July 30, 2020, the majority of the judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals recognized the civil nature of this case, and issued an order transferring the matter to this Court for our determination of jurisdiction.1 The orders before us are no more criminal matters than a civil suit arising out of detention at a jail facility or the adjudication of a negligence case predicated on a law enforcement motor vehicle accident which occurs during the transportation of an arrestee or inmate—both of which are matters only incidental to criminal arrest and/or confinement.

¶2 District judges have only two functions—judicial and administrative. Jurisdiction to review administrative orders issued by district courts lies solely in this Court, not the Court of Criminal Appeals:

Review of an administrative decision made in the exercise of a district court's managerial function may be sought only through an original proceeding in the Supreme Court. Similarly, management decisions by a Chief Justice are reviewable and correctable only by the Supreme Court sitting in its capacity as the administrative board of directors for the entire judicial system.

Board of Law Library Trustees of Oklahoma County v. Petuskey, 1991 OK 122, ¶ 14, 825 P.2d 1285 (citations omitted). As we have further explained:

In order to have a unified, organized judiciary in Oklahoma, there must be one individual at the apex: the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Through the powers vested
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in the Supreme Court, by the Oklahoma Constitution and statutes, it has passed down the authority for the administration of district courts to the Administrative Judge of an Administrative Judicial District. This authority is essential for the orderly operation of justice.

Petuskey v. Cannon, 1987 OK 74, ¶ 35, 742 P.2d 1117.

¶3 I also concur in the continued stay of the enforcement of AO-2020-1 (J. Balkman, Cleveland County District Judge) and AO-2020-3 (J. McCurdy, Canadian County District Judge).

KAUGER, J., with whom GURICH, C.J., DARBY, V.C.J. and COMBS, J., join, concurring:

¶1 Without question, this cause concerns an administrative matter. The City of Oklahoma City seeks a writ of prohibition from this Court to bar the Cleveland County and Canadian County benches from enforcing their respective administrative orders mandating that all persons arrested by the Oklahoma City Police Department in Cleveland or Canadian County be immediately transported to those counties respectively, rather than Oklahoma County.1 As part of their writ, the City of Oklahoma City attaches six administrative orders from the trial courts. To be clear, nothing in this matter concerns the appeal of a criminal conviction. Period. We have assumed jurisdiction to resolve the matter and the conflict between the county courts and the Court of Criminal Appeals has no jurisdiction to decide the matter even if it wanted to, or this Court wished it so.

¶2 The Oklahoma Constitution, art. 7, § 4 provides:

The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court shall be coextensive with the State and shall extend to all cases at law and in equity; except that the Court of Criminal Appeals shall have exclusive appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases until otherwise provided by statute and in the event there is any conflict as to jurisdiction, the Supreme Court shall determine which court has jurisdiction and such determination shall be final. The original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court shall extend to a general superintending control over all inferior courts and all Agencies, Commissions and Boards created by law. The Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, in criminal matters and all other appellate courts shall have power to issue, hear and determine writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, quo warranto, certiorari, prohibition and such other remedial writs as may be provided by law and may exercise such other and further jurisdiction as may be conferred by statute. Each of the Justices or Judges shall have power to issue writs of habeas corpus to any part of the State upon petition by or on behalf of any person held in actual custody and make such writs returnable before himself, or before the Supreme Court, other Appellate Courts, or before any District Court, or judge thereof in the State. The appellate and the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and all other appellate courts shall be invoked in the manner provided by law.

¶3 In Dancy v. Owens, 1927 OK 203, 126 Okla. 37, 258 P. 879, this Court explained the efficacy of this constitutional provision and the Court of Criminal Appeals' role in the Oklahoma judiciary. Dancy concerned whether the Oklahoma Supreme Court could review on certiorari a judgment entered by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. The Court very clearly said that:

1) pursuant to the Oklahoma Constitution,2 "the Supreme Court is the head of the
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judicial system and that other courts, established by law are inferior to the Supreme Court;"

2) "the authority, jurisdiction and power of the Court of Criminal Appeals is statutory" and "it is only what the Legislature gave it within permissive sanction of the Constitution;"

3) "the Legislature created the Court of Criminal Appeals to have exclusive appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases" and its power is limited to appellate jurisdiction only;

4) "the Constitution does not permit the Legislature to give the Court of Criminal Appeals any other jurisdiction;"

5) "the terminology, ‘Criminal Cases,’ has a well-defined meaning and under the law of this state they are either prosecuted in the name of the state either by indictment or by information filed in a trial court having jurisdiction;"

6) "under the law of procedure of appeals may be prosecuted when the accused is convicted" and such appeals have "for their purpose the determination of alleged errors of the trial court in the cause;" and

7) "the language is so clear that, if any confusion arises, it must be by reason of courting confusion, either by a spirit of unwillingness to abide by the language of the law or from other motives which may lead into the realm of speculation unbecoming to any judicial decision."

¶4 Thus, history shows that the Court of Criminal Appeals is court of special, and limited jurisdiction; it has exclusive appellate jurisdiction only in criminal matters.3 While this provision gives this Court superintending control over all inferior courts such as the Court of Criminal Appeals, it does not give this Court the power to confer jurisdiction on the Court of Criminal Appeals where none exists by law.4 Nor does it give the legislature such power.5

¶5 Where the Court of Criminal Appeals has no appellate jurisdiction, it has no power or authority over a cause.6 In Carder v. Court of Criminal Appeals, 1978 OK 130, 595 P.2d 416, this Court said that:

It speaks well of our bifurcated civil-criminal appellate system that there has not been a jurisdictional conflict between this Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals for more than fifty years. This scarcity of conflict is a testament to both the clarity of jurisdictional boundaries between the two Courts and the constant willingness of the members of each Court to observe and comply with their jurisdictional restrictions.

Carder involved the Court of Criminal Appeals' entertainment of an original action for mandamus brought by the Department of Institutions, Social and Rehabilitative Services

482 P.3d 734

(Department) in which the criminal appellate court made a determination beyond its power to render. The Department...

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